Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Pack Nine - Espontanéo ep (1982, Boozer)

One more cold case to round out the year.  Pack Nine were a quartet with Motor City and New York connections.  The five-song Espontanéo very well may have been their first and last will and testament.  The gratuitously synthy "Explode" kicks off the show, with a sonic aplomb that strikes me as a cheekier take on period Gary Numan, with some light Devo seasoning if you observe closely enough.  That satisfying ditty is bested only by the driving "Well After Dark," the closest approximation to punk rock the Pack were inclined to push their proverbial envelope.  For better or worse "Johnny Quest" isn't a retread of the TV theme song, rather a rhythmically-aware original that in a more perfect world would have compelled droves of 'wavers to beat a path to the dance floor.

01. Explode
02. Sick and Tired
03. Johnny Quest
04. Hard to Hide
05. Well After Dark


Sunday, December 27, 2015

I'll kick that stool right out from under you...

The relatively overlooked 1990 debut from a band that became an indie-rock mainstay.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

V/A - Best of the Blog 2015

Usually I wait until the 31st to pony up the annual "portable" version of W/O for the year ending, but something tells me I'm not going to get much more in before New Year's Eve.  Let's take a look at the numbers, shall we?  For 2015 I posted roughly 220 entries.  Subtract the fifty temporary Mystery Monday listings and that leaves 170 permanent shares.  Not bad, but in 2009, for example, the tally was a much more staggering 270 posts, virtually none of which were available on a limited basis.  In case you didn't feel like doing the math, 2015 had 100 fewer fixed entries - an average of two less per week (every week only has seven days you know).  So what gives?   A combination of things, the overriding one being that I don't want to exhaust my collection.  Pacing myself is a must, as is quality control.  Other factors may or may not include (moderate) burnout, overtime at my paying gig, and plain old doubt and indecisiveness.  This might lead you to ask, is Wilfully Obscure in it for the long haul?  I really don't think you have anything to be worried about.

As for what I've presented this years, here's the crème de la crème ripped from another batch of stunning revelations that are sure to garner more cheers than jeers.  Yes siree Bob, The usual cornucopia of jangly arpeggios, rampaging riffola and subterranean splendor you've come to rely on (albeit not all facets populating the same record).  The 24-track compendium outlined below is compiled predominantly from vinyl releases, naturally the meat and potatoes of this humble website.  I don't have an adequate amount of time to delve into any particular selections, which is why I've conveniently provided hyperlinks to the pertinent write-ups of whomever artist you fancy more details on.  Included are three songs I haven't previously shared.  The Shrapnel tune is a corker.  Enjoy.

01. Nashville Ramblers - The Trains
02. The New Dylans - The Primer of Life
03. The Fire - Stars (Looking Up At)
04. The Bandables - Cynacism
05. Farewell Party - Terez Batista
06. Epic Rumors - The Procession
07. Say-so - Celebration Waiting
08. Bullets - That Certain Glow
09. Red Buckets - Something Else Again*
10. Westmorelands - Cutting Against the Grain
11. Straight A's - Wash it All Away
12. Sammy - Babe Come Down
13. Daddy in His Deep Sleep - Play The Part
14. Social Club - Left to Understand
15. Outlets - Whole New World
16. Yo - I Meant to Tell You
17. Blush - Spit it Out (1980)*
18. Shrapnel - Combat Love (1979)*
19. Enemies - Degeneration
20. Angle Park - On My Back
21. The Lads - Bostown Girls
22. The Talk - Mystery to Me
23. SVT - Heart of Stone
24. The Stockings - (She's a) Devil

* previously unshared


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The New Dylans - s/t ep (1986, Caveat Emptor) + bonus

Now this one's kinda special.  Almost dedicated a Chanukah entry to it this year.  Where do I start?  The New Dylans were from Warren, PA, and for all I know still might reside there.  I encountered them for the first time very belatedly in 2013 via a used copy of their debut full length, Warren Piece, and have been enamored ever since.  The core lineup of Jim Reilley and Reese Campbell were aided and abetted on this 1986 record by none other than two of their contemporaries in 10,000 Maniacs, J.C. Lomabrdo and Jerome Augustyniak, filling things out on bass and drums respectively.  A far different animal than the Maniacs, The Dylans had a predilection for folk-enhanced singer/songwriter pop-rock, bearing a heart of gold's worth of wit, charm, and dare I say empathy. They didn't necessarily peak on this ep, but don't tell that to Michael Stipe, who from what I've read was absolutely floored by this at the time (and perhaps the respect worked the opposite way evidenced by the collegiate-rock sway of "The Pampered Wife").  They break out the accordion for the swingin' "Doreen," another exemplary track that would later find it's way to Warren Piece.  And then there's "The Primer of Life," a three minute jewel that qualifies as one of the fifty best jangle-pop songs I've ever laid ears on, due in no small part to a knockout chorus hook, and a dazzling Peter Buck-indebted guitar fill.  Things ebb a bit with the peculiar "Suburban Shopping Mall," just before the band brings things in for a landing with the consoling, acoustic ballad "Old Overcoat." 

Two subsequent records followed in the '90s, the aforementioned Warren Piece in 1993, and The American Way two years later, both on Red House Records.  As an addendum to the ep, I've tacked on a song or two from each, comprising some of their career best, namely "You" and "Desmond."  The New Dylans reconvened for their third album, Meta, issued this very year in fact.  Believe it or not, there was a low key documentary on the making of Meta, which you can avail yourself to right here not to mention a separate in-depth article.

01. The Pampered Wife
02. Breaking in Brian
03. Doreen
04. The Primer of Life
05. Suburban Shopping Mall
06. Old Overcoat

bonus material:
Desmond & The Prodigal Son Returns (from Warren Piece)
You (from The American Way)


Sunday, December 20, 2015

'cause your train of thought is leaving...

The 1993 long player from a North Carolina enterprise who sound like they had Bandwagonesque and Girlfriend on their minds.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Pitchfork (pre-Drive Like Jehu/RFTC) - Needle in a Haystack tape (1988)

Once upon a time, 1991 to be specific, I read a review in Alternative Press for a virtually unknown export from San Diego dubbed Pitchfork.  That write-up touted a Superchunk comparison, and given my impressionability during that time frame I was eager to obtain their album Eucalyptus without hearing one note beforehand.  It would take a few years, but it's a record I would become inseparable with by the time my college studies concluded in the late-90s.  It turns out there was far more at play than simple Superchunk adulation on Eucalyptus (and the 1989 Saturn Outhouse ep that was appended to the tape/cd incarnation of the LP).

You see, Pitchfork were a prickly, esoteric beast, stringing together unwieldy harmonics, dexterous grooves, off-center melodies, and most significantly John Reis' cutting edge guitar leads, chockablock with gnashing and half-muted slights of hand.  Pitchfork wouldn't be Pitchfork without another key facet, namely mouthpiece Rick Froberg (aka Rick Farr, Rick Fork at the time) whose timbre coincidentally approached that of Stephen Malkmus, had the Pavement frontman exercised his vocal chops while standing barefoot on a pile of smoldering coals.  Eucalyptus had a scant thirty minute lifespan, but within that beguiling half-hour-of-power lay a Grand Canyon's worth of sonic hooks and crannies - frayed, fleeting and perhaps unintentionally ambitious as they were.  While their penchant did concede to the environs of Chapel Hill, equal weight was given to real-deal D.C. emo acts of yore, not to mention Louisville visionaries Squirrel Bait.  Although it would be the band's only full length, Eucalyptus ranks in my top-20 of all time, and I should only be so lucky to hear it through earbuds on my deathbed.  I would be egregiously remiss if I didn't mention that this quartet's main claim to fame was spinning-off into a pair of considerably more pivotal San Diego bands, Rocket From the Crypt and Drive Like Jehu, the latter being the more telltale successor to Pitchfork.

Everybody has to start from somewhere, and likely to their embarrassment, Needle in a Haystack was Pitchfork's first at bat.  Only it wasn't the Pitchfork I would come to know and revere.  Rick had no involvement with this cassette, and if fact it was John Reis manning the mic throughout.  Finagling with a modestly tuneful variation on high school hardcore punk, the band were merely a trio at this juncture.  In addition to Reis, drummer Joey Piro would also carry over into the second incarnation of the Pitchfork.  While the eleven songs here are largely indiscernible from the work of so many other Southern Cali hopefuls of the era, you can (vaguely) discern the basis for John Reis' emerging guitar technique on selections like "It's a Nice Day" and "Caretaker," not to mention the genuinely sweet tones infiltrating "Sucked in, Spit Out."  Lots of poppin' bass here as well.  That's about as charitable as I can be in detailing Needle... which I'm offering here as more of a curiosity than anything else.  Pitchfork's Eucalyptus is still available, and if you want to sample it I would assume you could do so on Spotify.

01. Sucked In, Spit Out
02. Caretaker
03. Orchestra
04. Cut and Dry
05. Acoustic
06. Soak it In
07. Freedumb
08. Mind Over Matter
09. Darshana
10. Blazing Saddles
11. It's a Nice Day


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Mood Swing - How to Win Big at the Races ep (1989, C&P)

I have no pithy back story to extol on this virtually un-browsable four piece who presumably called San Francisco home.  Are you into the scruffy riff-rock of the Junk Monkeys, Snatches of Pink, or even Material Issue?  The Adam Taub-led Mood Swing were sipping from the same watering hole as the aforementioned, possessing an even grittier
bar-rock ethos with a neurotically romantic bent.  They go beyond the typical guitar/bass/drums trifecta to boot, intermittently incorporating saxophone, and violins among other accouterments.  A quartet of decent tunes capably drive Mood Swing's modus operandi home, with "Exile" and "Reflecting Pool" winning me over with ease. 

01. Exile (In Your Arms)
02. The Sound of Sirens
03. Up All Night
04. Reflecting Pool


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

V/A - The dB's & Friends - Christmas Time Again! (2015, Omnivore) - a brief review

This album jacket may have you doing a double take, particularly if you were a dB's fan in the mid-80s.  Christmas Time was originally an ep in 1985 minted on the late, great Coyote Records.  The idea had been bandied a few years prior between the dB's Chris Stamey and Gene Holder, and with Peter Holsapple on board "Christmas Time" (the song) was cut, exuding the smart, strummy and harmonized penchant that characterized their non-holiday material.  The ep was fleshed out with six more songs featuring different permutations of Stamey's backup band of the time.  Roughly two decades later a vastly expanded CD version of the collection reflected the glow of Christmas lights again, minus, some of the ep's original setlist.  Christmas Time Again! is decked out with a third layer of tinsel this year via another tweaked revamping courtesy of Omnivore.  Bear in mind, this is a compilation, not a dB's album, however they're credited with four songs here, the aforementioned "Christmas Time" among them, and a rendering of "Feliz Navidad" that's a bit too straitlaced for it's own good.  As Christmas albums go, CTA isn't a fruitcake so much as an Xmas eve bowl of Chex Mix where strikingly genteel, easy-listening lullabies from a bevy of virtual unknowns meet under the mistletoe with holiday themed tuneage from some serious alt-leaning luminaries.  These juxtapositions aren't what you would call particularly jarring, and in fact, were you to select this as the soundtrack to your next Christmas get-together few at the party would bat an eyelash.

Marshall Crenshaw offers a ballad for the holiday lovelorn with "(It's Going to Be a) Lonely Christmas," Yo La Tengo & Jeff Tweedy collaborate on the Pomus/Shuman penned "Eight Day Weekend," and Robyn Hitchcock dispenses characteristically cynical and cutting dialogue into the brief "The Day Before Boxing Day."  Then there's another keeper from the original '85 ep, "The Only Law That Santa Claus Understood" by Ted Lyons, who indulged his urge to float a sheet of carbon paper over Charlie Daniel's "The Devil Went Down to Georgia."  By and large, those are the anomalies, but if it's traditional fare you seek, Christmas Time Again! delivers a sleigh's worth of booty.  Alex Chilton doesn't shine any street cred onto "The Christmas Song" (you know, "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...") but I'll take his reading over Mel Torme's tired rendition any day.  Speaking of Alex Chilton, a live tribute to Big Star (billed as Big Star's Third) contribute a fitting cover of the Third/Sister Lovers classic "Jesus Christ," with none other than Mike Mills on vocals and Jody Stephens, Mitch Easter, Stamey and others backing him.  As previously mentioned CTA bestows it's share of real-deal easy listening numbers too, mostly originals at that.  Not something you'd expect with a record bearing the dB's stamp, but the season 'tis the reason.  It can all be yours from Omnivore, Amazon and iTunes

Monday, December 14, 2015

...a hint of glitter on a sweaty palm.

A 1987-92 discography disk from a co-ed UK band said to have been inspired by the anarcho/peace punk movement of the Thatcher-era.  To my ears however, this is considerably more on the wavelength of melodic post-punk.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Eighth night of Chanukah: The Chameleons (UK) - Dali's Picture (1990, Imaginary), Tripping Dogs (1993, Glass Pyramid) & Radio 1 Evening Show Sessions (1993, Nighttracks)

For this eight and final night of Chanukah, I thought I'd share my nostalgia with you.  In fact this is definitely not just a trick of the light.  You have at the base of your sleeves three semiprecious, out-of-print Chameleons compact disks, two of which are imports.  I'm a pretty dedicated acolyte to Mr. Mark Burgess and his crack backing band.  Established in Manchester, England in 1981, the Chameleons inserted bold, eminently powerful tension into what would have otherwise been a quartet of dime-a-dozen post-punk hopefuls.  Characterized by echoey, shimmering guitar exploits and Mark's austere vocal command, the Chameleons were lazily pegged as "goth" by some.  There were essentially three proper albums to the band's credit prior to their 2000 reunion - Script of the Bridge (1983), What's Does Anything Mean? Basically (1985), and Strange Times (1986). Beyond that are a myriad of vital singles (compiled on The Fan and the Bellows, and later Dreams in Celluloid), not to mention a cavalcade of live albums/DVDs...and these...

Dali's Picture - Surfacing in 1993, this disk compiles ten demos, presumably when the band was still cutting their collective teeth in the early '80s.  Some of these songs went onto the debut, Script of the Bridge, others to early singles, and one cut, the title track, is unique to this release.  It's a pleasure to hear these songs in sparer, more organic arrangements before the band brought them screaming to grandiose life on subsequent proper records.  Two versions of Dali's Picture exist - one with a bonus live CD, and the other with just the album unto itself.  My copy falls in the latter category.

Tripping Dogs - The Chameleons were meticulously documented.  So much so even a taped rehearsal from 1985 saw the light of day in the guise of Tripping Dogs via Burgess' own Glass Pyramid label.  The band had their songs solidly down pat before entering the studio to track What Does Anything Mean?  No huge revelations here, but the performances are tight and we even get a preview of a couple tunes that would be put on the shelf for the next Chameleons platter, Strange Times.

The Radio 1 Evening Show Sessions - I suppose the title gives this bad boy away.  Culled from a pair of BBC sessions, one in 1983, the other following in two years.  Classics one and all - "Nathan's Phase," "Singing Rule Britannia," and "Up the Down Escalator" to name a few. Two versions of "View From a Hill" are provided, including one that was never broadcast apparently.

I've also repaired the link to the Strange Times demos I shared in 2010.

Tomorrow remember yesterday...

Dali's Picture (early demos)
01. Everyday I'm Crucified
02. Monkeyland
03. Dreams in Celleloid
04. Love Is
05. The Fan and the Bellows
06. Look Inwardly
07. Dali's Picture
08. Nostalgia
09. Less Than Human
10. Things I Wish I'd Said


Tripping Dogs (What Does Anything Mean rehearsals)
01. Singing Rule Britannia
02. A Person Isn't Safe Anywhere These Days
03. Here Today
04. Pleasure and Pain
05. Bobby Moore's Wine
06. Less Than Human
07. Thursday's Child
08. In Answer
09. Return Of The Roughnecks
10. Second Skin
11. One Flesh
12. Home Is Where The Heart Is


The Radio 1 Evening Show Sessions
01. Thursday's Child
02. Pleasure and Pain
03. Monkeyland
04. Singing Rule Britannia
05. On theBeach
06. View From a Hill
07. Nathan's Phase
08. Up the Down Escalator
09. Home is Where the Heart Is
10. View From a Hill


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Seventh night of Chanukah: The Lads - Out From the Shadows (1983, UN)

What would Chanukah be like on Wilfully Obscure if I didn't gift you at least one completely unknown quantity? You see, it just so happens that last month a DJ saved my life.  Well, maybe I shouldn't give him that much credit, but he did turn me onto this phenomenal disk, which I was motivated to track down a physical copy of for myself.

Presumably from the environs of greater Boston, MA, The Lads were a walloping power pop quintet purloining a page or three from UK pub-punksters The Boys and Pistols offshoots The Professionals, whilst on the Stateside front indulging in the rhythmic ebb and flow of Shoes and Off Broadway not to mention vital obscuros Crash Street Kids.  Out From the Shadows is comprised of eight captivating and unyieldingly catchy assaults, a brief but fiercely capable cavalcade of shoulda-been-blaring-from-the-jukebox salvos including "Bostown Girls," "Downtown Start," and "Neighborhood Kids."  What's more, "In the Clouds" tantalizingly cops half of the Knack's "My Sharona" riff before transitioning into an infectious persuasion of it's own.  Often bordering on phenomenal, ...Shadows is a serious Teen Line-esque gold-rush flowing your way peeps.  A must hear for those of you who dug those Philisteens records I posted some years back.

01. Neighborhood Kids
02. Get Back in the Race
03. In the Clouds
04. Bostown Girls
05. On the Prowl
06. Downtown Start
07. Out From the Shadows
08. Empty Subway Train

MP3  or  FLAC

Friday, December 11, 2015

Sixth night of Chanukah - The Dickies - Archives Vols 1 & 2 (1996, Hit & Run)

For the uninitiated, The Dickies are a punk rock institution who barreled out of Los Angeles in the late '70s,  Their sardonic wit and oft-costumed antics were seamlessly fused to gonzo melodic structures, beating the Descendents to the punch by a good five years.  And here's another statistic for you relating to numero five - the Dickies are into their fifth decade of existence and still performing under the Dick-tatorship of original leading lights Leonard Grave Phillips and Stan Lee.  Despite their staggering tenure, the band have merely six studio full lengths to their credit, but nearly as many eps and live rekids.  A good place to start would be their first and second albums, The Incredible Shrinking Dickies and Dawn of the Dickies both issued in 1979.

Those of you with any familiarity of the Dickies know the aforementioned blurb hardly does them justice, but then again you've probably been long sold on them.  Presented tonight are a duo of authorized "fan club" vinyl-only boots that were quietly introduced into the marketplace in 1996, which puts them somewhere around the time of the band's fifth LP Idjit SavantVolume 1 (green jacket, and in some cases orange) is a mishmash of demos and seemingly random live cuts.  Side A includes a quartet of 1985 demos cut for their fourth album, Second Coming.  "Cross Eyed Tammy" and "Monkey See, Monkey Do" are worth the price of admission of Vol. 1 alone, as is an alternate take of the riff-ramming "Toxic Avenger."  More demos ensue on side deux, the highlights here being a cover of the Left Banke's "Pretty Ballerina," and "H.I.V." which was later rewritten and rechristened as "My Pop the Cop," and released as a single in it's own right in 1998.  Live selections include but are not limited to "Fan Mail," "Nobody But Me," and a brief piss-take of Lou Reed's "Take a Walk on the Wild Side."

And speaking of covers there are five of them features on Archives Vol. 2, which zeroes in on a live 1982 concert taped for radio at City Gardens in Trenton, NJ.  Dickies renderings of classics like "Communication Breakdown" and "Sounds of Silence" are veritably make a mockery of here.  Therein lies the irony (duh).  Trailblazing original compositions like "Tricia Toyota" and "Manny Moe and Jack" were actually a much more significant draw for someone like myself.  Enjoy.

Archvies 1
01. Out if Sight, Out of Mind (Stukas over Disneyland, alt. take)

Second Coming demos
02. Jim Bowie
03. Cross Eyed Tammy
04. Monkey See, Monkey Do
05. Monster Island

06. Toxic Avenger (alt. take 1990)
07. Nobody But Me (live)

1990 4-tracks demos
08. I'm on Crack
09. Diamond Mine
10. Pretty Ballerina
11. H.I.V.

various live (see sleeve for details)
12. Fan Mail
13. Toxic Avenger
14. Monster Mash
15. I'm Leonard
16. Walk on the Wild Side

Archives Vol. 2 - 6/13/82, City Gardens, Trenton, NJ
01. Night in White Stain
02. You Drive Me Ape
03. Pretty Please Me
04. Sounds of Silence
05. Doggie Do
06. Fan Mail
07. She's a Hunchback
08. Jim Bowie
09. She
10. (Stuck in a Pagoda with)Tricia Toyota
11. Mental Ward
12. Manny Moe and Jack
13. Gigantor
14. Banana Splits
15. I'm Ok, You're Ok
16. Communication Breakdown

Archives Vol 1.  MP3  
Archives Vol 2.  MP3 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Fifth night of Chanukah: The Fluid - Plunderin' the vault: Punch n Judy LP, singles, eps, demos.

This isn't the first time I've dedicated space to Denver's glam/grunge-meisters The Fluid, but it just might be the last. Here it is folks, everything I have by John Robinson & Co. to date that I haven't already shared (see previous entries for Clear Black Paper, Freak Magnet, Roadmouth, CBP demos).  Growing up in a small rural city in upstate New York in the late '80s/early '90s two band epitomized punk rock to me more than anyone else - the Sex Pistols and the Fluid.  Yes, this was the narrow prism yours truly was gazing through when I was getting schooled on sub-rosa rock.

Though they likely bristled at the "grunge" tag, the Fluid didn't find the flannel so much as the flannel found them.  They fit in like a glove on Sub Pop's nascent roster and parlayed their success there to a major label deal in 1993.  It didn't earn them the notoriety they deserved, but even after running out of fluid twenty years ago their records still pack a staggering wallop.

First and foremost is the debut Fluid LP, Punch 'n Judy.  The version I'm presenting here is the import Glitterhouse Records incarnation of the album, ugly-ass sleeve and all.  Punch originally came to life on the band's Rayon imprint in 1986 and bore a much more flattering cover (jpeg is included in the folder). Conveniently my copy came bundled with a press kit, and it would appear that every set of ears with a typewriter made mention of the Fluid's profound affection for the Stooges and New York Dolls.  "Static Cling" is indeed evident of Iggy and pals, while "You" and the trashy camp of "13th Nite" exude various shades of the latter influence.  At one point there was a Fluid website boasting an extensive discography. I recall the notes saying that Punch... was originally slated to be a five or six song demo, but low and behold the band stretched their dollar to cut a bona fide LP.  Above average for a debut, but they had hardly peaked.  The Glitterhouse version contains a different track sequence and a bonus cut ("Graveyard Tramps") not available on the original Rayon pressing.

Next up is a live bootleg 7" capturing four songs from a 1988 gig (location unspecified), many of which would appear on the then forthcoming Roadmouth.  This is where the Fluid really started to congeal, with thicker bass guitars, a noticeably more muscular sonic tenor and the introduction of seedy vignettes. splendidly surfacing on the lacerating "Twisted & Pissed," a punk rock slammer that would have done Stiv Bators proud.  Shortly following Roadmouth came 1990's Glue ep, as well as a live split single with Nirvana, but even more enticing than that, a new Fluid single on Sub Pop offering two exclusive songs.  "Tin Top Toy" sports the vibe of earlier Fluid forays like Clear Black Paper, albeit speedier,  One of the most unique songs in the Fluid's oeuvre.  The flipside, "Tomorrow" is a Frantix cover, an earlier Denver hardcore band featuring future Fluid alumni.

Prior to signing with Hollywood Records in '93, the band pumped out one more indie release, an Australian import ep featuring two new songs, "My Kind" and "Waves," and a pair of outtakes from the Glue sessions.  "My Kind" was re-recorded for the band's first (and final) "big time" LP purplemetalflakemusic.  The early adaptation of the song that appears on Spot the Loon is exponentially meaner and feral than the subsequent LP version.  See kids?  Band change when they sign to a major.  An early take of "Cell" appears here too, along with the two Glue outtakes I mentioned - a more than serviceable run through of "Kick Out the Jams" and an oddball original, "Hey 13."  In conjunction with the release of purple... Hollywood Records furnished radio stations with a promo CD of "Pill," boasting two full fledged outtakes, "Cell," and the crankin' "Waves," which is not to be missed.  That CD is included in this bundle as well.

Finally, we cap things off with a set of ten demos for purplemetalflakemusicNow this is what that fourth and final album would have amounted to had it not been sapped of so much of it's strength to suit corporate radio whims.  Everything here is positively bejeweled with more sway, groove, oomph and heart than what was publicly revealed on the shiner and borderline-neutered finished product.  I've only encountered these demos in MP3 form, and sadly, it's pretty obvious this is a cassette rip, but better than nothing.  BTW there are some songs here overlapping with the Spot the Loon and Pill eps.  All in all, an embarrassment of riches for us meager contingent of Fluid fans.

The Fluid reunited for a handful of concerts in the summer of 2008.  Guitarist Rick Kulwicki passed away in February 2011.  For a complete rundown of Fluid releases, head over to Discogs

Punch 'n Judy (1993, Glitterhouse)
01. Static Cling
02. Mousetrap
03. Preacher Man Blues
04. Sacchairne Rejection
05. Graveyard Tramps
06. Madhouse
07. You
08. Turn Away
09. My Future
10. 13th Nite
11. Goin' Away

Live bootleg ep 
01. Twisted and Pissed
02. Is it Day
03. Lonely One
04. Hooked

Tin Top Toy 7" (1990, Sub Pop)
A. Tin Top Toy
B. Tomorrow

Spot the Loon ep (1992, Fellaheen)
01. My Kind
02. Cell
03. Kick out the Jams
04. Hey 13

Pill promo CD (1993, Hollywood)
01. Pill
02. Cell (demo)
03. Waves (demo)
04, Pill (demo)

purplemetalflakemusic demos (1992)

01. I Said That I'm Through
02. One Eye Out
03. Waves
04. Wasn't My Idea
05. Hand in Hand
06. She Don't Understand
07. My Kind
08. Lies
09. Pill
10. Cell

Punch 'n Judy: Hear
singles, eps: Hear
purplemetalflakemusic demos: Hear

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fourth Night of Chanukah - The Figgs: 20th Century Masters - The Singles

Well look who came to bestow some happy Chanukah tidings?  The Figgs were kind enough to bequeath us with a steady flow of singles and such during their tenure in the Clinton-era, and I was kind enough to hem together as many of the disparate and sometime random non-LP Figgs jams that I was fortunate to collect over the years.  In fact, this entry has been in the pipeline for awhile now.  I had been procrastinating out of sheer fear that assembling this collection would be a bear of an undertaking, but I finally nailed it, save for a couple of tracks from tribute albums, and the elusive "I Am Clean" from a Blue Lunch Records comp cassette that I'm sadly missing.

As the long held notion goes, Beatles b-sides were usually superior to most other band's A-grade material.  So far as I'm concerned, The Figgs were another "fab four" (later pared down to three, but I digress) whose non-LP catalog could go head to head with their strongest album tracks.  Case in point, a spate of four exquisite singles that came down the pike between 1993-95, beginning with "Miss Velvet" and ending with my favorite Christmas record ever, the Christmas Shake ep which I originally posted here in 2007.  Still performing and recording, the Figgs sassy and charm-schooled power pop formula is microbrewed by two key singer-songwriters Pete Donnelly and Mike Gent, with drummer Pete Hayes contributing text on a less frequent basis, in proportion to say, Ringo Starr.  The net result isn't Beatle-esque, so much as Material Issue getting juiced up on Elvis Costllo's genius, late '70s tear.  Edgy, indigenous and endearing The Figgs halcyon era in the mid-90s was a sight/sound to behold, and proper full lengths, Banda Macho and Lo-Fi at Society High, were merely half the story.

Since I don't have the time to provide you with a track-by-track spiel, let me cherry pick a few highlights.  The Figgs first single, "Happy" was backed with a cover of the Green Pajamas winsome "My Mad Kitty."  Other single sides from the same era "Let's Get Arrested" and "One Hit Wonder" were big audience favorites, and rightfully so.  You can read more about the Christmas record in the link I supplied below.
"What Became of It" was initially released as the b-side to the Banda Macho era "Girl, Kill Your Boyfriend" single, not on 7" wax, but would you believe a 5" compact disk sized record.  If you ever gone to the trouble of playing a 5" piece of vinyl on a record player you know how dicey it is to get the needle to drop without the arm automatically retracting to it's resting position, but anyway.  There's more covers too.  The Figgs's spin on "Father Christmas" is even more breathless and strident than the Kinks, while Chuck Berry's "Don't You Lie to Me" is virtually reconfigured into a lounge number.  Yet another Kink's tune, "Johnny Thunder" is capably executed, as is an Undertones oldie.  There are some really obscure compilation tracks here too.  Immediately after the tracklist is a source listing for everything,  MP3 bitrates may vary slightly from song to song.

BTW these aren't the first Figgs rarities I've shared.  I've refreshed the links for their 1992 Ginger cassette album, and the vinyl only outtakes collection RejectsThen there's my original entries for Christmas Shake, the split singles with Prisonshake and Coffin Break plus the Undertones tribute and Half-Assed compilations.  A lot to love.  Enjoy.  Thanks to A Minor Obsession for the painstaking discogrpahy details.

01. Happy
02. My Mad Kitty
03. Miss Velvet
04. Powder King
05. Go Before
06. Let's Get Arrested
07. J Card
08. One Hit Wonder
09. Father Christmas
10. Christmas Sake
11. Merry Christmas, Girl
12. What Became of It
13. Let Me Have It
14. Up the Charts
15. Citizens Band
16. Appointments
17. This Phaser Sounds Divine
18. Wiser Goldfish
19. Don't You Lie to Me
20. Got Back Your Baby (live)
21. 1000 People Grinning
22. Who Hung That Sign
23. Johnny Thunder
24. Boys Will Be Boys

1 & 2 - Happy 7" (1992, Absolute A-Go-Go)
3 & 4 - Miss Velvet 7" (1993, Matt Label)
5 & 6 - Go Before 7" (1994, March)
7 & 8 - J Card 7" (1995, Square Target)
9-11. Christmas Shake 7" ep (1995, Chunk)
12. b-side to "Girl, Kill Your Boyfriend" 5" (1996, Capitol)
13. split 7" w/ Coffin Break (1992, Negative Feedback)
14. split 7" w/ Bloom (1994, Paint Chip)
15. split 7" w/ Incredible Casuals (1995, Kranepool)
16-19. split 7" with Prisonshake (1998, Flipped Out/Philthy Rex)
20. V/A - Live at the QE2 (1990, Sweetfish)
21. V/A - Half Assed 7" ep (1994, Kranepool)
22. V/A - Sponic magazine 7" comp (1998, Sponic)
23. V/A - Daydreaming in an Empty Station Wagon CD (1999, Dizzy
24. V/A - Here Comes the Summer - Undertones tribute (1995, Square Target)


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The third night of Chanukah - Seven scintillating singles.

Note:  If you can't see anything past the singles post, scroll down and select "older posts."

I haven't been offering much in the way of singles lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been adding to my stockpile of 45s.  Here's the creme de la creme of what I've accumulated in the past year or so.
The Bandables - Cynicism b/w Love Lies Down (1984, Galt)

Quite possibly one of the ten best singles in my entire collection. The Bandables were a co-ed and very photogenic foursome who emanated from Port Washington (Queens), NY specializing in highly resonant power pop.  With it's cutting and cathartic lyrics "Cynicism" sounds like the greatest thing Chrissie Hynde never committed to tape, while "Love Likes Down" is a slice of jangle pop manna for the ages.  Had these folks recorded a full length of the same caliber of these songs I think I might have a new favorite band.  Per their Facebook page, the aforementioned tunes and several more may surface digitally at some point.  

Choo Choo Train - This Perfect Day b/w Happy Bicycle (1987, Picture Book)
It doesn't quite feel like a Choo Choo Train record without the involvement of Paul Chastain, but I'm still more than on board with any record Ric Menck cares to grace the mic on.  "This Perfect Day" (not the Saints song btw) boasts some discernible psych pop tweaks to keep things interesting.  The other side of the coin, "Happy Bicycle is steeped in Let's Active's edgy aesthetic.

The Big Maybe - Some Things Never Change b/w It Should Be Alright by Now (1987, Picture Book)
Both Menck and Chastain comprise the ostensibly short-lived Big Maybe, with the equally capable Nick Rudd manning the vocal stead.  Rudd was the frontman for Turning Curious and Weird Summer, the latter of whom churned out four albums between 1987-98.  Both cuts here have the Rickenbacker thing going for them without overdoing it.  Not surprisingly, distinct shades of Weird Summer abound.  BTW, Nick Rudd's early '90s project, Blown comes highly recommended.

The Diffi-cult - Day of Saint Christopher/Low Rider (1986, St. Valentine)
I can't recall how I became hip to this David Giffels-helmed Akron, OH three-piece, but I present you with what appears to be their one and only single.  "Day of Saint Christopher" is a ringing, left-off-the-dial jewel, bleeding some scrappy indie guitar-rock panache with a heap of integrity to go with it.  Why War's "Low Rider" is such a damn popular song to cover I'll never be able to figure out, but Diffi-cult pull it off, retooling the song into something of their own design. 

The Fire - Stars (Looking Up At) b/w England (1985, Big Step)

A cold case if there ever was one.  Mystery rockers from the UK deliver a spectacular A-side that doesn't cling to any of the traditional Brit-indie norms of the day.  I'm drawing a blank as to whom I might be able to offer a comparison to, but "Stars" thrives in it's indigenous stride, deferring equally to gits and synths with any potential wave tendencies kicked to the curb.  The flip, "England" is strikingly minimal by comparison.  A slow grower if there ever was one.  BTW, this was taken from a 45 rpm, 12."  Feel free to comment if you have any pertinent deets on this elusive combo.

Ironics - Mayday b/w Misdemeanors (1982, Age of Music)

Yet another un-Google-able entity, this time American (potentially the Bay Area). If this was the Ironics lone single they came and left on a remarkably high note, with two excellent power pop salvos.  "Misdemeanors" wins the contest by a hair.  They had more in common with Clocks, Fools Face and other contemporary obscuros than 20/20 and Shoes, making them that much more interesting.

SVT - Heart of Stone b/w The Last Word (1979, 415)

This San Francisco treat was a curiosity if only for the inclusion of Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna bassist Jack Casedy moonlighting in SVT's otherwise pedestrian lineup.  For better or worse, the group doled out a somewhat pedestrian AOR sound to match, with loose power pop tendencies.  "Heart of Stone," however happens to be a remarkable three-minute pop-rocker with hooks that put anything by say, the Knack to shame.  And the b-side?  It rocks like a mofo.  There was at least one other SVT single, an ep, and a 1981 LP, No Regrets, that was reissued a few years ago by the thoughtful folks at Rykodisc.